For King & Country (band)

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For King & Country
Joel Smallbone.jpg
Background information
Origin Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Genres Christian pop, alternative rock, soft rock
Years active 2007–present
Labels Fervent/Curb
Associated acts Rebecca St. James
Members Joel David Smallbone[1]
Luke James Smallbone[1]

For King & Country, stylized as for KING & COUNTRY and formerly known as Joel & Luke as well as Austoville, is a Christian pop duo composed of Australian brothers Joel (born 5 June 1984) and Luke Smallbone (born 22 October 1986).[2] The Nashville-based brothers' 2012 debut record Crave has received praise, and the brothers were declared by Billboard as one of the "New Artists To Watch" for 2012.[3] American Songwriter described them as "Australia's answer to Coldplay."[4]

SUSIE Magazine raves, "It takes only one listen to the brothers' rich, upbeat, alternative sounds and thoughtful lyrics to understand their sudden popularity."

They describe their philosophy as such:

"The power of music can impact our mood, emotions, our day. But when you merge the strength of music with the heart, hope and passion of the Gospel... it has the ultimate power not only to change someone's day, but to impact them for eternity. This is why we write music and sing songs - we hope that people will be moved, encouraged and stirred to live a life for Someone greater than themselves."[5]

They cite U2, Mutemath, OneRepublic, the Beatles, Goo Goo Dolls, and Switchfoot, as well as film scores such as those from Braveheart and Gladiator, as their musical influences.[6]


Early music career[edit]

During high school, the brothers supplied background vocals and other supporting roles for their sister, Rebecca St. James, and various bands in concerts across America.[5] Shortly after Luke graduated from high school, the brothers decided to explore the possibility of forming a band, and in 2007, they began performing as their own band. They began their career with the band name "Joel & Luke", which they later changed to "Austoville".

In 2008, they released an EP, A Tale of Two Towns with six songs, three of which appeared on Crave with slightly different melodies and lyrics ("Missing", "Sane", and "Love's to Blame") and three others entitled "Broken Lullabies", "Believe Me Now", and "Something's Gotta Give". Love's to Blame was co-written by St. James.[5]

Rename to "for King & Country" and first album[edit]

In 2009, they signed on with Warner Music Group with Ben Glover as their producer. They changed their name to "For King & Country", after a British battle cry. Luke said,

"We wanted a band name that carried more meaning. We were in the studio recording our debut record that Joel had the idea of All The King's Men, like the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme. Our producer overheard our conversation and swung around in his chair and said, 'What about For King & Country?' And we all felt a sense of providence in that moment. "For King and Country" was the battle cry of English soldiers willing to lay down their lives for their king and their country. And now it has become our mission, to lay down our lives for our King and our country."[5]

In 2011, they released For King & Country: The EP. Their song "Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)" was released as a single and peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Christian Songs chart.[7] They described "Busted Heart" as "really a universal cry of humanity for something greater than ourselves...We think we've got it all sorted out, and life will deal you those blows."[8] "Busted Heart" was the fastest-rising single of 2011 in their genre, climbing the Top 10 for weeks.[citation needed]

Their debut album Crave was released on 28 February 2012. The album hit No. 2 on the iTunes top Christian & Gospel albums on its day of release and No. 42 on the overall chart. It peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Christian Albums chart, and remained on the chart for 41 weeks.[9] It also reached No. 128 on the Billboard 200 chart.[9] The album has received rave reviews from critics. Shortly after Crave's release, they released "The Proof of Your Love" as a single, remixed and titled "The Proof of Your Love: The Monologue Mix". The single differs from the album version with a monologue spoken by Joel from 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (The Message) as the bridge instead of the guitar riff on the album version. The single reached No. 8 on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart and spent 29 weeks on the chart.[10] The band toured on the 2012 Winter Jam Tour Spectacular. In May 2012, they appeared on the Huckabee show on Fox News Channel.[11]

Their debut hit song, "Busted Heart (Hold on to Me)" was featured on 28 October 2012 episode of VH1's "Rehab with Dr. Drew."[12] Among other television placements, their songs "People Change" and "Love's To Blame" have been featured The CW's Vampire Diaries, and "Light It Up" and "Sane" have been featured on the Lifetime show Drop Dead Diva.[13][14] In July 2012, they announced The Proof of Your Love Tour with Jason Castro and Dara Maclean to visit 30 cities from September through November 2012.[15] In October 2012, they released an original Christmas song entitled "Baby Boy"; it reached No. 20 on the Hot Christian Songs chart.[16] During the summer of 2013, the band was forced to take time off when the 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Luke dropped to 125 pounds (57 kg) due to an attack of ulcerative colitis.[17] In June 2013, Joel Smallbone appeared in a non-singing role as King Xerxes in the film, The Book of Esther from Pure Flix Entertainment.[18]

For King and Country performing at the Big Church Day Out Festival at Wiston, West Sussex, UK, May 2018

In August 2013, the band released Hope Is What We Crave: Live, a live album and DVD, both recorded at The Factory in Nashville on the last night of the band's first headlining tour. They also released "Hope Is What We Crave" as a single. It is a reworked version of "Crave" from their album.[19] They toured with Casting Crowns starting in February 2014.[citation needed]

Second studio album, Christmas album, and film[edit]

For King and Country released a new album Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. on 16 September 2014.[17] The album spent 17 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 13,[20] and reached No. 12 on the Digital Albums Chart.[21] The band performed their songs "Run Wild" and "Fix My Eyes" on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on 25 March 2015.[22][23] They were part of the Winter Jam Tour 2015 in the central and eastern parts of the United States[citation needed] and part of Winter Jam 2016.[24] The duo released a deluxe anniversary edition of the album on 23 October 2015, including three new songs: "Priceless", "Ceasefire" and "Wholehearted", as well as a reworked version of "It's Not Over Yet", called "The Encore".[citation needed]

In 2016, Curb Records acquired Warner Music Group's stake in the band's record label, Word Entertainment, thus becoming King & Country's record label.[25]

After releasing their second album, the brothers focused much of their time on the feature film Priceless, which stars Joel in a story about human trafficking. They wrote several songs for the film, part of the reason it took four years to release their next studio album.[26] They also wrote a song, accompanied by a music video, entitled "Ceasefire" for the 2016 adaptation of Ben-Hur; the song was used in the second official trailer for the film and released as part of the official soundtrack.[27]

On 27 October 2017, they released A For King & Country Christmas Live, and shortly thereafter embarked on "A Glorious Christmas" tour with Casting Crowns.[28]

Third studio album (Burn the Ships)[edit]

In February 2017, the duo announced that they had begun work on their third studio album.[29]

The lead single from their third studio album is entitled "joy." and was released in May 2018.[26] It reached #35 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart and #2 on the Hot Christian Songs chart. The album, entitled Burn the Ships, was released on 5 October 2018. The brothers described it as "most mature record that we've made just in understanding who we are as a duo, who we are as men and maybe understanding life because we are a bit older than we were last time around."[30] Two of the songs were written about the weighty topics of addiction and suicide, and three were written to and about their wives (who sing in the final track, "Pioneers", and appear in the accompanying music video).[31][30] The album contains ten songs and they released five music videos to accompany them.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Joel David Smallbone was born on 5 June 1984[1][32] and Luke James Smallbone was born on 22 October 1986.[1][33][2] Both were born in Sydney, to David and Helen Smallbone, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1991, after their father's job relocation.[5] Their father was a music promoter, and Joel recalls, "going to these rock concerts, sitting on my father's shoulders, plugging my ears...Honestly, in a lot of ways I feel like music chose me and as I grew older, I made a clear decision to fully lean into it."[34] The Smallbones are the younger brothers of Christian recording artist and speaker Rebecca St. James, and the brothers-in-law of Jacob Fink, former bassist for the band Foster the People. They were raised with another sister, Libby, and three other brothers, Ben, Dan, and Josh.[35]

On 26 June 2010, Luke married Courtney Helm.[36] Their first child, Jude James Smallbone, was born on 19 December 2012.[37] They also have a son, Phoenix Alexander.[38][39] In late 2016, Luke announced via social media that he and his wife are expecting their third child.[40] On 7 July 2013, Joel married Moriah Peters, who is also a recording artist, in California. The couple saved their first kiss for their wedding day.[41] They now reside in Nashville, Tennessee.[42]

The brothers are both dual citizens of Australia and the United States.[26]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications

2012 Crave 128 4
2014 Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. 13 2
  • RIAA: Gold[46]
2018 Burn the Ships[47]
  • Released: 5 October 2018
  • Label: Word Entertainment
  • Format: CD, digital download
1 41

Live albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions


2017 Christmas: Live from Phoenix
  • Released: 27 October 2017
  • Label: Word
  • Format: CD, digital download
194 5 15


Year Album
2008 A Tale of Two Towns: The EP
2011 For King & Country: The EP
2013 Into the Silent Night: The EP
2015 The Live Room Sessions at RCA Studio A


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications Album
US Bub

Christ Air.


2011 "Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)" 3 Crave
2012 "The Proof of Your Love" 8
"Baby Boy" 17 Into the Silent Night: The EP
2013 "Middle of Your Heart" 16 Crave
"Hope Is What We Crave"A 21
2014 "Fix My Eyes" 3 1 38 Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.
2015 "Shoulders" 4 1
2016 "It's Not Over Yet"[56] 5 2
"Priceless"B 3 1
"Glorious"C 8 6 Into the Silent Night: The EP
2017 "O God Forgive Us"
(featuring KB)
14 11 Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.
2018 "Joy" 14 2 1 35 Burn the Ships

Other charted songs[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album

2018 "Pioneers"
(featuring Moriah & Courtney)
27 Burn the Ships
"God Only Knows” 20
"Amen” 25
"Burn the Ships” 23
"Fight On, Fighter” 29
  • A"Hope Is What We Crave" is a re-worked version of "Crave" from the album Crave.[19]
  • B"Priceless" and "O God Forgive Us" (featuring KB) are only available on the deluxe anniversary edition of Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.
  • C"Glorious" is only available on the extended edition of Into the Silent Night: The EP

Featured performer[edit]

Year Title Artist Album
2013 "Caught Dreaming" Andy Mineo Heroes for Sale
2014 "Messengers" Lecrae Anomaly
2017 "Bring You War" KB Today We Rebel

Joel Smallbone was featured on "Take this City" by Everfound.[57]


Joel Smallbone was the lead actor in a 2016 drama about human trafficking entitled Priceless, which was released in theaters in October 2016. Luke was one of the producers (together with their father) and their brother Ben directed the movie. Some of the music for the film was written by For King & Country.[58]


A novel, Priceless: She's Worth Fighting For, based off the film, Priceless, was released on 6 September 2016.[59]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In December 2012, iTunes selected Crave as their Breakthrough Christian & Gospel Album of 2012[60] while at the inaugural K-LOVE Fan Awards held 1 June 2013, they collected the "Breakthrough Artist of the Year".[60] In 2015, they won two Grammy Awards at the 57th Grammy Awards, one for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album and one for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song.[61]

Grammy Awards

Year Award Result
2015 Best Contemporary Christian Music Album (Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.) Won
Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song ("Messengers" Lecrae featuring for KING & COUNTRY) Won
2017 Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song ("Priceless") Nominated

GMA Dove Awards

Year Award Result
2013 Song of the Year ("The Proof of Your Love") Nominated
Contemporary Christian Performance ("The Proof of Your Love") Nominated
Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year (Crave) Nominated
Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year ("Caught Dreaming" Andy Mineo featuring for KING & COUNTRY) Nominated
New Artist of the Year Won
Short Form Music Video of the Year ("The Proof of Your Love") Nominated
2015 Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year Won
Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year (Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.) Won
2016 Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year Won


  1. ^ a b c d ASCAP. "Busted Heart". ASCAP. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b for King & Country (4kingandcountry) (12 August 2009). "@rochellesheree I'm (Joel) 25, and Luke's almost 23". Twitter. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  3. ^ "for KING & COUNTRY: Billboard's Artist To Watch In 2012!". 17 January 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Live at American Songwriter—Ken Will Morton, For King & Country, Jack Tempchin, Garland Jeffreys". 2 November 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e "For King & Country: From Rebecca St James sidemen to CCM success". 23 May 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Writer of the Week: for KING & COUNTRY". 7 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Billboard 3/10/2012". 10 March 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  8. ^ "#296 - "Busted Heart" by for KING & COUNTRY". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
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  10. ^ "For King & Country - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  11. ^ "For King & Country on 'Huckabee'". Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Rehab With Dr. Drew | Songs By Episode". 11 November 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  13. ^ "For King & Country Releases Debut Record on Feb. 28". Music News Nashville. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  14. ^ "Biography | for KING & COUNTRY". Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  15. ^ "'Proof of your Love Tour' Brings three of Christian music's brightest new Artists - for King & Country, Jason Castro, and Dara Maclean". 12 July 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  16. ^ "Christian Songs,, issue date December 22, 2012". Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  17. ^ a b Adams, Brent (12 December 2013). "For King & Country returning to Southeast Dec. 21-22". The Southeast Outlook. Middletown, Kentucky: Southeast Christian Church. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  18. ^ "Pure Flix Entertainment Presents 'The Book of Esther',, issue date June 8, 2013". Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  19. ^ a b "FOR KING & COUNTRY". New Sound Magazine. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  20. ^ "For King & Country - Chart history - Billboard". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  21. ^ "For King & Country - Chart history - Billboard". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  22. ^ "for King & Country Perform 'Fix My Eyes' on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' Tonight; 'And so it begins!' Band Says on Facebook [PICTURES] : Music". 25 March 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  23. ^ "Catch for KING & COUNTRY on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! Tonight! | for KING & COUNTRY Latest Updates". 25 March 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  24. ^ Winter Jam 2016 spotlights Crowder, For King & Country, Matthew West (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
  25. ^ Curb acquires Warner's stake in Word Entertainment (Nashville Post)
  26. ^ a b c For King & Country Are on a 'Passionate Pursuit of Joy' With New Music: Hear Their Lead Single 'Joy' (Billboard)
  27. ^ Ben-Hur: For King & Country call for Ceasefire in music video (
  28. ^ "Casting Crowns and for KING & COUNTRY Join Forces on 'A Glorious Christmas' Tour". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  29. ^ "​for KING & COUNTRY Begins Work on Third Studio Album". Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  30. ^ a b c For King & Country on the Struggles That Informed 'Burn the Ships,' Their 'Most Mature Record' Yet Billboard
  31. ^ "For King & Country 'Burn the Ships,' confront suicide and anxiety on personal new album". Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  32. ^ for King & Country (4kingandcountry) (5 June 2010). "RT about Joel's birthday. Joel from @joelandluke is turning 26 this year. I thinks he's starting to feel a little old! -L #happybirthday". Twitter. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  33. ^ for King & Country (4kingandcountry) (22 October 2013). "In the last year Luke faced severe illness & became a dad! He's one of the most hope-filled people I know! Happy birthday little brother! -J". Twitter. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  34. ^ "Biography | for KING & COUNTRY". Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  35. ^ Watts, Cindy (27 November 2014). "For King & Country gives thanks for family, early trials". The Tennessean. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  36. ^ "Simple Wedding - Wedding Photo Book". Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  37. ^ "Music News, December 2012: IT'S A BOY FOR LUKE SMALLBONE OF AUSSIE DUO FOR KING & COUNTRY". 20 December 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  38. ^ Janet Van Vleet. "Christian pop group For King & Country to play Abilene". Abilene Reporter News. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  39. ^ "Smallbone/Fink Flashcards". Quizlet. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  40. ^ "Luke Smallbone Family Growing – 3rd Child Coming!". The Fish 95.9 fm. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  41. ^ Dinger, Anna. "For King & Country's Joel Smallbone Married Moriah Peters on July 7 [Photo] : Articles". MusicTimes. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  42. ^ Dinger, Anna. "For King & Country's Joel Smallbone Married Moriah Peters on July 7 [Photo] : Articles". MusicTimes. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  43. ^ a b "For King & Country Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  44. ^ a b "For King & Country Chart History (Christian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  45. ^ "For King & Country Chart History: Canadian Albums". Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  46. ^ "American album certifications – For King & Country – Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  47. ^ "Burn the Ships by for KING & COUNTRY - CD Reviews And Information - NewReleaseToday". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  48. ^ Caulfield, Keith (October 14, 2018). "Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper's 'A Star Is Born' Soundtrack Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200 Albums Chart". Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  49. ^ "For King & Country Album & Song Chart History (Holiday Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  50. ^ "Cory Asbury – Chart history (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  51. ^ a b "For King & Country".
  52. ^ "For King & Country - Christian Airplay".
  53. ^ "For King & Country Chart History – Adult Pop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  54. ^ "American single certifications – For King & Country – The Proof of Your Love". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  55. ^ "American single certifications – For King & Country – Fix My Eyes". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  56. ^ "Going for Adds – Christian AC". Radio & Records. VNU Media. 6 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  57. ^ "New Single - "Take This City (feat. Joel of for KING & COUNTRY)". Everfound Official Website.
  58. ^ "Joel Smallbone to star in Priceless Movie". Inquisitr.
  59. ^ Longs, Herb. "For KING & COUNTRY Announce "Priceless" Novel". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  60. ^ a b Shi, Tony. "For King & Country Is Named Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the First-Ever K-Love Fan Awards". Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  61. ^ "Grammy Awards 2015 Winners: Lecrae, for King & Country, Erica Campbell Win Big In Christian Gospel Categories". Christian News, The Gospel Herald.

External links[edit]